- Hardcover: 397 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (April 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608195236
- ISBN-13: 978-1608195237
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.5 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #873,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 Hardcover – April 12, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Intelligent and well read, a quintessential member of the British aristocracy but with a mind of her own, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) was a late bloomer. Born to a noble family of moderate fortune, she was married, first at 17 to a much older, drunken aristocrat, in midlife, more happily, she married a loving Irish clergyman. Widowed, she began at age 72 her remarkable art of cutting and creating the 985 floral "mosaicks" as she termed them—a precursor to collage. Delany rubbed elbows with Handel, Hogarth, Jonathan Swift, King George III, and Queen Charlotte. But Delany was even more fortunate to come under the wing of a duchess who brought the cutting work to the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Horace Walpole. Poet Peacock's (The Second Blush) hymn to Delany weaves in her own life and discovery of her subject and of course all the viewings of those astonishing orchid "mosaicks." 35 color illus. (Apr.)
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“An intriguing, evocative aesthetic experience. A lyrical, meditative rumination on art and the blossoming beauty of self that can be the gift of age and love.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Poet Peacock's hymn to Delany weaves in her own life and discovery of her subject.” ―Publishers Weekly
“If ever a subject and a biographer shared a sensibility, it is the bond between esteemed poet Peacock and the artist Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788)… In this lapidary work of creative immersion, Peacock does with words what Delany did with scissors and paper, consummately constructing an indelible portrait of a late-blooming artist, an exalted inquiry into creativity, and a resounding celebration of the ‘power of amazement.'” ―Booklist, starred review
“This book layers Delany's life and work over Peacock's. It is organized by flower ― forget-me-not, thistle, poppy, etc., each a metaphor for a different phase in Delany's life. In this way, the book itself is a complicated, delicate and beautiful collage.” ―Los Angeles Times
“[A] remarkable biography.” ―More
“Affecting and engaging, Peacock's own candor combines with Delany's wit and honesty to prove that it is never too late to make a life for oneself and to be sustained by art. VERDICT: This marvelous 'mosaick' makes an indelible impression.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“[A] fascinating and beautifully made biography … It is filled with wonderfully detailed information about history and art―from the dog wheel that churned butter to the way rag paper was made… [Peacock is] interested in the pathway to art―how Mary's interests in gardening and collecting, and her practice in needlework and painting, laid the groundwork for that moment of revelation… Possessed of a discerning eye, Peacock…lavishes attention on Mary's life, both social and artistic, drenching us in vivid, sensory language as if we were adrift in champagne. The Paper Garden is perfect for the art lover, and for the reader who revels in rich digressive layers that imitate the contours of our lives.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
“In this lush, humane book, noted poet Molly Peacock shows a terrific hand for crafting prose as she delves into the life of Mary Delany… Peacock bravely uses her exploration of Delany to sidestep or upend the conventional place of the feminine, the craftsy, the domestic… Just as Delany makes a cosmos out of flowers, Peacock makes a cosmos out of her interest in Delany's world. In a remarkable act of observation, recuperation, and assemblage, Peacock weaves her own collage--cutting between Mary Granville's early life and times, her later flowering into art, and Peacock's own journey as a 21st century sympathizer with Mary's loves and ambitions. What emerges is fascinating both because it is surprisingly and keenly observed… To call this book small or quiet would be somehow to belittle what Peacock has so beautifully magnified and made resonant--the triumph of art as a human pursuit, and the curious webs from which both art and craft spring. This book is not flashy, but it is one of the more beautifully constructed and deeply engrossing books I have read in some time. It is a keen reminder of what the fruits of vivid watching--and passionate living--can offer.” ―Barnes & Noble Review
Top customer reviews
The book was a smaller size than the one I saw in Scotland, and that was disappointing, as the illustrations are nicer in a larger format. However, I think that the title of the one I really wanted was Mrs. Delany, Her Life and Times, so the error was mine.
The gift recipient was happy.
I couldn't put it down! I didn't want it to end. Delighted readers will be giving this book to children and friends for years to come. Molly Peacock resembles her subject, Mary Delany, in many ways, especially in her energy and capacity for commitment. And she uses her own intuition and experience to interpret Mrs. Delany's pictures, flower "mosaics" which are truly works of art (all critics use personal experience, but not all admit it). One of my favorite places in the book is where Ruth Hayden (an early appreciator of Delany's work) for the first time encounters the framed portion of Mrs. Delany's flower-embroidered satin gown; it has been hanging on her wall for years, she has been looking at it for years, but now she really sees it. Molly Peacock really sees the Delany mosaics and communicates her vision with her poet's imagination. This book is enriched by botanical and historical material. I am looking at flowers differently now--they are no longer just a haze of pleasant prettiness.
Through Ms. Peacock, Mrs. Delaney lives once more and she truly shines for us. Peacock makes me feel as though I personally knew the amazing septagenarian who created such a vast collection of beauty, and for that gift, I am eternally grateful.